FRAUDSTERS have been carrying out bogus leaflet drops in order to steal post from the letterboxes of homes in East Dorset, police have warned.

People in St Leonards and St Ives have been targeted by the offenders, who apply for debit and credit cards using personal information found in the mail. Four men have been arrested and investigations continue.

PCSO Adam Fitzwalter of the West Moors, St Leonards and St Ives Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: "Although our enquiries are in their early stages and are ongoing, we would like to warn residents to be aware of this type of fraud to enable you to take any security precautions as necessary.

"External letterboxes have been the chosen target in these incidents, likely because some of these boxes are relatively easy to access and remove mail from even without opening the locked compartment door.

"It is suspected that those involved with this crime have initially been visiting addresses in the area carrying out bogus leaflet deliveries before reaching into letter boxes which are accessible to them and taking the mail they can get hold of.

"Stealing mail could provide someone with the opportunity to gain sensitive personal information.

"We have subsequently discovered that there have been several fraudulent applications for credit and debit cards made without the knowledge of the victim.

"It is suspected that mail has been stolen from homes with the purpose of making fraudulent online card applications.

"The fraudster will have then been in the area checking their chosen resident’s mailbox in the days after their fraudulent card applications for the relevant letter containing the card, and then the pin number letter which usually arrives several days later."

Homeowners should ensure letterboxes are secure and cannot be accessed. Tenants of rented homes should report any damage to their landlord.

Mail should be collected as regularly as possible and not left for long periods of time.

Those who receive bills and bank statements through the post are urged to remember the dates such letters usually arrive, or receive documents electronically where possible.

To report a crime to Dorset Police, call 101 or visit